Thanks to South Asian Concern I am on my way to Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges to see a little of north India and to observe the heart Hinduism. However, there are no direct flights from Chennai and so my ticket takes me via Delhi (Delhi) on the way there and Mumbai (Bombay) on the way back.
And so today was spent looking round Delhi which involved rain (well, it is the monsoon) and cars (well, Delhi is home to 22 million people … which also happens to be the population of Australia.)
After seeing India Gate and the parliament buildings etc. I tried to do some shopping only to experience real salesmanship. In one shop I was getting fairly bored by the pressure to buy coming from all quarters that I decided to purchase a fridge magnet. I was going to buy one in Delhi anyway but I bought it here because it was the cheapest thing I could see – on reflection, it was probably just a British passive-aggressive response to such hard sell. I was then given a receipt and told that I had to pay for it upstairs. This, of course, gives the opportunity for more sales. ‘Just’ while my receipt was being prepared I was asked to look at some paintings. When I told him that I did not want to buy any paintings he promised that he would not sell me anything but ‘it costs nothing to look.’ I was probably there for another 10 minutes with him ‘not selling me anything’ until I finally managed to leave… and so it went on until I finally managed to exit into the rain.
You know you are in India when …
– driving is an extreme sport. The adrenalin rush is somewhere between bungy jumping and a parachute jump. (* This is not a scientific scale since I have never done either and so it is possible that driving in India is even more stressful than falling out of an airplane.)
– restaurants advertise themselves as ‘non-vegetarian’.
– the front-page headline of a broadsheet newspaper is ‘Holy Cow!’
– it is common for people to stare at you. (I’m not sure if it is my rugged good looks or the colour of my skin.)
– EVERYBODY supports England at cricket … when they are playing Pakistan.